CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt began the trial on Sunday of former Prime Minister Atef Obeid and other officials accused of illegally selling an island nature reserve to a businessman close to deposed president Hosni Mubarak.
Obeid, prime minister from 1999 to 2004, was charged along with former agriculture minister Youssef Wali and three others with selling the island to Egyptian businessman Hussein Salem, who is being tried in absentia.
All five officials denied the charges. A second hearing was set for November 19.
Since a popular uprising toppled Mubarak in February, Egyptian prosecutors have been investigating corruption allegations against former officials and businessmen connected with his 30 years in power.
Following the uprising, Salem fled to Spain, where he has been in jail for three months after being arrested on an international warrant. Obeid was arrested in July.
The island of Al-Bayadiya, covering about 36 acres, lies near the major tourist centre of Luxor in the south of Egypt.